veddaWhere do you get your ideas…the ones you implement to try to grow your business or improve your operating efficiency? Trade mags like The Retailer? Customer feedback? Competitors? All are viable grist for inspiration, but I’d like to suggest that we all look further than these sources. I’d consider these “line of sight”: direct, obvious ideas from within our industry. There’s nothing wrong with these ideas and, in fact, they usually come with a track record that gives you reason to believe they have merit.

However, sourcing your inspiration from within MI is safe…sometimes to the point of being inbred. There are a lot of “me, too” dealers in our industry. I used to work for one many years ago. There was no idea he tried that he didn’t see another dealer present first. In fact, when an idea that didn’t appear in the trades was presented, he didn’t believe it would work—because no one else was doing it. An extreme example, yes, but one drawn from life.

An additional problem with inbred innovation is that ideas can have a life cycle, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell if you’re getting in after it’s played out. A few years ago, many were buzzing about getting kids involved by having Rock Band video game sessions in your store. How’s that workin’ out, folks? Investing time and resources into an idea that’s near its “sell by” date can be more damaging than mounting a promotion that doesn’t work. To jump on the proverbial bandwagon too late brands you as unhip and off-trend. At least an original promotion might work; and, if it truly is original (at least in the context of our industry), it can differentiate you from the local competition.

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